Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why I'm a Shalom Auslander Fan

The thing is, you get fewer and fewer real writers these days.

I discovered Shalom Auslander quite by chance. Caught in a bad mood, I was frantically browsing the net one day when I stumbled upon his columnA Terrible Experience. I wanted to read just the first paragraph, but I was gripped. It had so much funny kind of punch that I found myself reading through it. And I loved the piece absolutely. Here was a writer who wrote what he exactly wanted to write!

That's how I became his fan.

I like Shalom's attitude, his style. He reminds me of Mark Twain, but only faintly.

Shalom is crazy, intelligent, irreverent, believer, hilarious and gloomy - all at the same time. He does not care about political correctness. He has always something to say, and he says it like it is - without worrying the least about the repercussions. Who would not love such a natural and real writer?

Shalom has a book called Beware of God . All the stories of this book revolve around the idea of God. "I have a 'Beware of Dogs' sign on my house," says he,"I feel the same way about God." If it seems like blasphemy, he does not really mean it. Does he believe in God? "Yes, I do because I want to not," he said in an interview.

"Sadness and tears have never been the goals of my reading, or my writing, and I can't imagine why they would be. I thought that was the goal of the Drudge Report, of the Evening News: “Now With TWICE the Misery.” Murder, war, rape, global warming, global cooling. Then the five-second clip of the squirrel waterskiing. Tears in the writer? Tears in the reader? This is some kind of victory? Catharsis, I know. No amount of dragging a reader over the miserable coals of a writer's miserable imagination can’t be excused by catharsis, by the waterskiing squirrel: The lovers live on, only without legs, a home, or a future. Oh, and she'll get raped. Him, too. But they LIVE, damn it, they LIVE. Mother, father, and children are burned to death in a house fire, but a rat in hole somewhere has learned an important lesson about life. I'm not buying it. I purchase more novels than I can possibly write off as expenses (trust me, I've tried), and put most of them down before I'm a third of the way through. Call it laziness if you like. I call it prudence: I can only kill myself once, and I'd like the book that makes me do so to be really worth it. I've read enough of them through, though, to know that if there's a baby, it will die. If there's a dog, it will be shot. A heart, broken. A family, torn apart. A city, demolished. A tire, flattened. A toe, stubbed. A nail, bent. A cup of tea, spilled. But cathartic, always cathartic."


John Self said...

He's terrific, isn't he? I've just begun his memoir, Foreskin's Lament, which has the funniest Acknowledgements page I've ever read (though admittedly that's not up against very stiff competition).

Mrinal Bose said...

Thanks, John. I look forward to what you say about it in your blog.

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